Top Ten Tips: How to hire the best graduates

Looking to get some bright young sparks through the door? Here are some tips for getting the best ones - and keeping them.

by Swatee Jasoria
Last Updated: 12 Jun 2013

1. Start recruiting early 

If you find that hiring graduates from specific institutions has worked well for your organisation in the past, and want to attract more of the same good graduates, then it is a good idea to get to know students well before they graduate. It would be best to engage with them after they start university so that you can develop a relationship with them throughout their undergraduate career. Running events and workshops specifically tailored to the university would be a helpful starting point.  

2. Be selectivein choosing which institutions you focus on

Do your chosen institutions ‘get’ employability? Do they have programmes in place that ensure that graduates are able to hit the ground running? Employers often complain that many graduates leave British universities without the basic capabilities to get a good job, let alone have a successful career. It is crucial that students learn everything from how to work in teams to solving practical problems while remaining intellectually curious and entrepreneurial. 

3. Develop a relationship

A good relationship with a university’s careers service can do wonders for finding talent.  All careers services have job boards, careers fairs, networking and educational events and they welcome help and support from employers.

Once you have established a good relationship with the university, they can help you identify the brightest and best-suited candidates for your organisation.  Don’t be afraid to give feedback directly to the university about what graduates are good at and where the gaps are. Do this on an ongoing basis rather than waiting until you’ve hired them. 

4. Optimise your online presence

Generation Y are digital natives. Facebook and Twitter are how they communicate on an everyday basis. They have very little patience for poorly constructed websites. Don’t underestimate ‘word of mouth’ - if you are able to engage today’s youth on a platform and provide them with a clear sense that their participation will make a difference, you’ll be well ahead of the game. 

5. Seek enthusiasm 

 In addition to knowledge and skill, look for graduates who are enthusiastic and personable. People who really care, whether they are university staff or prospective employees, make a difference and it rubs off on all the people that they work with. Don't just rely on psychometric tests - a high scorer may have nil personality and would not fit in with the rest of the team. 

6. Be clear about career development opportunities

This generation also has high expectations and potential recruits are likely to be impatient for promotion. Advertise promotion prospects and careers tracks to appeal to the ‘instant-gratification’ generation.  

7. Make interviews a positive and enjoyable experience

The best candidates will have a choice of company to work for, so ensure that candidates have an enjoyable interview experience. Being happy at work is as important as being challenged; so showing them that you have a great culture could give you the edge over other recruiters. 

8. Be flexible

Look for candidates who have always made the best use of all the opportunities they have had - if they have done this before, they will do so for you. 

9. Offer short work experience schemes

Offering short work experience stints is a great way to assess whether a candidate is a good fit for your organisation and way to weed out the ‘good interviewers’ from the ‘good potential employees’.  This is also very beneficial for the candidate as these days, students are constantly on the hunt for work experience.  

10. Keep it personal

Keeping everything personal is key to getting the very best students and retaining them. Write them personal emails, call them and show them you are genuinely interested in them.   


By Swatee Jasoria, professional development counsellor and head of careers at New College of the Humanities

Find this article useful?

Get more great articles like this in your inbox every lunchtime

Why collaborations fail

Collaboration needn’t be a dirty word.

How redundancies affect culture

There are ways of preventing 'survivor syndrome' derailing your recovery.

What they don't tell you about inclusive leadership

Briefing: Frances Frei was hired to fix Uber’s ‘bro culture’. Here’s her lesson for where...

Should you downsize the office?

Many businesses are preparing for a 'hybrid' workplace.

How to make your team more accountable

‘Do as I do’ works a lot better than ‘do as I say’.

Black talent isn’t hard to find: It’s just you

If you want to attract the widest range of applicants, you need to think about...